Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Coal in Lawrence County

Last week in the Daily Record, the Illinois Bicentennial article portrayed the importance of coal in the state.  That is undoubtedly true and hopefully some time this year the historians will recognize the importance of the oil discovery in Lawrence County. While we await that eagerly, we decided to review this blog to see if coal played ANY part in OUR history other than burning it as fuel.

We found this: JANUARY 18, 1899 Lawrenceville News

Lawrenceville Coal Co. Jul 7 1926
Clay Seed, of Bridgeport, called on the NEWS yesterday. He informed us that Samuel Turner, who lives near his place, while drilling a well for water struck several good veins of coal at a depth of 140 feet, which measured five foot, but the largest vein was struck at a depth of about 300 feet from the surface and it is a ten foot vein and both veins seem to be of excellent quality.

Not exactly enough to qualify as coal industry....but then because it was cold and snowy and we didn't want to venture out,  we decided to look further into our geological history and found this post published on Sept 23, 2015:

The Daily Illini  April 11, 1957  Geologists to Take Field Trip

The first of three field trips conducted by the Illinois State Geological Survey will be held Saturday, according to George M. Wilson, head of the Surveys Educational Extension service.  The trip will be conducted in the Lawrenceville area in the Little Wabash River Valley and adjacent to the wide flats of the Wabash River, once a broad turbulent river fed by melting glaciers.  Beneath the glacial sands and gravels is bedrock of the Pennsylvanian age, some 350 million years old.  These rocks contain the Illinois coal beds, widely mined in other parts of the state, and many of the oil producing sands.  The trip will include a visit to both old and new style pump jacks used in the Lawrence County oil fields.  The earth science field trips are planned to acquaint science teachers, farmers, students, and interested laymen with the development of the local landscape and the geological processes that formed the rocks and the present hills and valleys.  The group will leave Lawrenceville High School at 9am Saturday.

Low and behold we found the ACTUAL field trip pamphlet on the internet.  It's an interesting narrated road trip with driving directions explaining our geological history.   While we don't advise driving this "science lesson" in bad weather, it might fun for some history detective to plot it on a map and send it to us, so we could share with everyone. catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100147128

Yesterday's post asking for help identifying some photos brought several answers.
 Moose baseball team  J Lathrop:
back row left- Floyd Gaddey
back row 2nd from left standing - Barney Dickerson
back row center- Paul "Shag" Brown
front row left- Wayne Large
Front row right- Lonnie Griffith

M Wagner said the first guy on the left in the front row is Curtis (Turk) Hill, her father, and A. Dale said on the far right, back row looks like Gene Carl from Petrolia but he wasn't certain.  This response is exactly what we wanted.  We now have some names.  Continue to look at our photos and if you are able to identify any, we need that information.  If we don't identify them now, the next generation certainly won't be able to do so.   The next time you are at the History Center, please ask to see the actual 8 x 10 photos for further identifications.

It must have been the snowy roads that kept everyone inside and reading the blog.We have had 264,790 views since we started the blog in Aug 2010.  That doesn't count the emails that you receive-- only the times people have actually clicked on the blog itself. By the way, the most viewed blogs have been Queen Mary's River Pearl with 2836 views, followed closely by the First LTHS Building with 2736 views.

The blog post yesterday about the two motels on State Street also provoked some response. R Peneton started by saying that the Dixie cabins were torn down and the Casey General store was built in their place.  He  remembered several buildings of maybe brick construction. Then J Schoffstall asked if Mattie Kingery and Mattie Henry were one and the same. M Wagner confirmed the location of the green cabins and said that they were eventually used for apartments on State Street. She also stated that they were last owned by Mattie Henry, mother of Walker Henry.  Thank you to all for this information to further our archives of the History of Hotels, Motels, and Boarding Houses in the County.  If anyone has any other information or Photos please we would love to know.

E. Brumley commented that in the 1960's he remembered a large house where CVS is currently located on the northeast corner of 15th and State on a heavily shaded wood lot with a neon sign in front that said  "Tourist Rooms."   Does anyone else remember this?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Medical Quiz

We think a great activity when the weather is freezing and the roads are bad is to stay inside and read past articles on the blog.

So stealing a trivia quiz prepared by K Borden and expanded upon by this editor, we have prepared a test to determine how much you know about Lawrence County history.  Don't worry! It's multiple choice and it won't be graded.  The answers are all found on this blog.  The winner of the most answers without referring back to past blog posts gets bragging rights.  Sorry, until all those NEW membership checks start arriving we have only enough income to pay our utility bills...Hint Hint.

  1. What was the name of the Lawrenceville doctor kidnapped in broad daylight on the street in Lawrenceville?
    1.  Dr Sprinkle
    2.  Dr J O McDowell
    3.  Dr Ralph R. Trueblood
    4.  Dr John Montgomery
  2. In 1846 the Lawrenceville Aesculapian Medical Society was formed. What organization was an outgrowth of this society?
    1.    Illinois Medical Society
    2.    American Medical Association
    3.    Illinois Osteopathic Medical Society
    4.   Southern Illinois Medical Association
  3. What Lawrence County doctor served 7 terms (14 years) in the State Legislature?  
    1.   Dr J A Kuykendall
    2.   Dr  Jonathon L Flanders
    3.   Dr  W G Anderson
    4.   Dr. John Richardson Thompson
  4. Dr Charles Philip Gore, whose office was located at the corner of 11th and State in Lawrenceville, was instrumental in upgrading what public amenity?
    1.      Traffic Signals
    2.      City Sidewalks
    3.      City Sewer System
    4.      City Water System
  5.  What was the name of the doctor who was shot and killed at Birds in 1896 by a jealous lover of the doctor’s serving girl? 
    1. Dr J H Dailey
    2. Dr J E Connett
    3. Dr J McDonald
    4. Dr I A Powell
  6.    Mrs. Frank McConn was a well-known midwife/public health nurse in the 1940s-1950s in Lawrence County. She was on hand for the delivery of how many babies before she moved to Belleville, IL.
    1. 3700
    2. 370
    3. 37
    4. None of the above
  7.    A doctor’s office building has been re-located to Lanterman Park at Bridgeport. The name of the Doctor who practiced in this building about 1895 was:
    1. Dr John Frank Schrader
    2. Dr David Flanders
    3. Dr B F Hockman
    4. Dr E F Fahnenstock
  8.    Dr L C Hoke, a well-known dentist in Bridgeport committed suicide July 1905 by drinking a poisonous substance.  What did he drink?
    1. Arsenic
    2. Extract of Lemon
    3. Moonshine
    4. Morphine 
  9.    What doctor traveled to California by wagon train to make his fortune in the gold fields, narrowly missed drowning at sea on his return voyage, and later practiced in Russellville, IL?
    1. Dr Snider
    2. Dr McDowell
    3. Dr J A Emmons
    4. Dr Andrew Jackson Haughton
  10. 1.          What dentist traveled to the Klondike looking for gold because of a falling out with his lover, only to return to Sumner and eventually marry the girl?
    1. Dr Patton
    2. Dr Frank Dollahan
    3. Dr Morgan
    4. Dr Mangum 
  11.      Which of these men were well known pharmacists in the county?  Clue: See Web Page not blog
    1. Frank J Bangert and Dick Alsman
    2. Harry Hardin and Hugh McNair
    3. J C Rowell
    4. All of the above
  12. 1.      When was the Lawrence County Memorial Hospital dedicated?
    1. 1940
    2. 1950
    3. 1960
    4. 1970
Answers will be given Saturday, unless you are an overachiever and want to send them to me earlier....

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Two Motels on East State Street?

       Lawrence County News 
       November 15, 1951

Formal Opening of the Lambert Motel 
at 407 State Street, Lawrencevile, Illinois Sunday 
November 18 2-4pm.  
Having recently constructed and opened a modern motel in Lawrenceville at 407 State Street, and being proud of our units we are inviting the general public to a formal opening on Sunday afternoon, November 18 from 2 to 4 pm.  We shall be happy to meet the people of Lawrenceville and show them our accommodation for guests and the equipment for caring for them.  Mr. and Mrs. C. V. Lambert 

(Ed Note:  This is now K's Motel at the bottom of the hill next to Bottoms Up and Caseys.
But where was the Dixie Hotel mentioned a year later in the newspaper?) 

Lawrence County News
December 25, 1952     


The motel business is not a new venture for Mrs. Mattie Kingery, whose establishment is located on East State Street in Lawrenceville.

Mrs. Kingery started her business 17 years ago, and recently remodeled all of her cabins into the modern Dixie Motel.

She has been a resident of Lawrenceville almost all of her life coming here in 1905 with her parents Mr. and Mrs. John Mendenhall. After the death of her mother, she and her father operated the business, beginning with rooms for tourists in the large house.

Mrs. Kingery says that she has had people from all parts of the world stay at her motel, and once had a son of J. D. Rockefeller as a guest.

History Detectives Wanted

Orin Calvert was a professional photographer in Lawrenceville in the 1940's and 50's. His son donated a huge box of black and white photographs that he took during this time, but we need our history detectives to help us with identification.  There are over 100 wedding pictures, all unidentified.  We believe that the wedding participants are local people so we are hoping some of you may know them.  Enlarge them and ask your family members if anyone looks familiar, then let us know.

Mr. Calvert also took lots of sports related photos.  Thanks to several men who came in and helped us, we have most of them identified.  But here are two that we need still assistance in identifying. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

First High School Cafeteria at BTHS 1916

In viewing the innovation at BTHS in 1916 the Cafeteria that was opened in the fall should receive special attention.  As the number of students from the rural districts increased, and since there were no places near the school where warm noon lunches could be purchased, the entire school rejoiced when Principal O. M. Eastman announced the opening of the cafeteria.  The Cookery Laboratory (or Home Ec Kitchen as we would call it today) was used to prepare the food.  The lunches were then served in cafeteria style on individual trays with the gymnasium being used as a temporary dining hall during the first part of the each noon hour.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Mrs. Toussaint Dubois

If one of the Illinois Bicentennial writers were to do a story about a historic figure from Lawrence County, and I am not saying this would ever occur, but if it did, that figure might be Toussaint Dubois,... because of his connections with Kaskaskia and Cahokia. Well, alright he also lived in Lawrence County and first owned the land where Lawrenceville is now located.  Minor details though when you are talking about the 'important places in Illinois.' (ie Kaskaskia and Cahokia) 

So let's talk about Mr. Toussaint Dubois. Jane Baird Dubois, wife of Toussaint Dubois, was influential not only in her own right, but also in the part she played in the location of Lawrenceville a few years after the Illinois became a state.   

Jane Baird was born about 1770 in the Louisville, Kentucky area to Thomas Baird,II of Scottish descent, and Esther Kilgore Baird.  The family moved to the area now known as Bloomington, Indiana.  At age 25 she met and was courted by Toussaint Dubois, a 50 year old widower from Vincennes, Indiana. (Don't get hung up on the date she was born because as you will read later in this expose', the dates between her marriage and the death of Toussaint's first wife won't work if you do.)

Dubois was a prosperous Frenchman whose trade connections with both whites and Indians provided him with a good income and allowed him to purchase lands adjacent to the town of Vincennes above the ferry landing. High on the cliffs on the west side of the Oubache (Wabash) River, known as Dubois Hills, he and his first wife, Janne Bonneau, a vivacious 16 year old daughter of a well to do French family, had built the family home. There they had had a daughter and four sons before tragedy struck and Janne died on November 15, 1800 at age of 28. She was buried in the cemetery of the St Francis Xavier Church with  the whole village of Vincennes mourning her death.  The priest Jean Rivet wrote at time, “she was loved and esteemed by both the young and the old on account of her charity, her beneficence, her good disposition, and other precious traits of character.”

Having to live up to the reputation of the first wife and take on raising five small motherless children ages 7-16, in a community of French Catholics must have been quite a task for twenty-five year old Jane when she married the much older Toussaint.  But she appears to have been a very strong willed young woman. Jane was Presbyterian and Toussaint agreed to be married in her church. The marriage was soon blessed with three more sons who were reared as Presbyterians, unlike Toussaint’s first family who were raised as Catholics. (She was either very Presbyterian or still smarting over the obit given by the priest at the death of her husband's first wife.)

According to Leo W. Graff, Jr. from a paper he wrote in 1987 for the George Rogers Clark Trans-Appalachian Frontier History conference, “the Dubois family home was an imposing  structure situated on bluffs high above the river and reflecting the affluence of its owners. Many of the decorative materials for the home had been brought up river by bateaux from New Orleans, but the exterior was of rough native stone. The second story of the edifice included dormer windows and supported a clapboard roof. But it was the interior of the home that revealed its owner's artistic taste in the arrangement of the rooms and their furnishings. The garden, bursting with a variety of flowers, reflected Mrs. Dubois' careful attention. The house was the center of a 400-acre plantation. Among the servants were a small number of slaves.”  (This was the home that the second Mrs Dubois moved into, and what second wife doesn't want to live in the house built by the first wife, no manner how grand?) 

Jane’s husband continued pursuing his business interests and established stores in Vincennes, Kaskaskia and Cahokia, as well as acquiring substantial land holdings in both Indiana and Illinois, including land that would eventually become the site of Lawrenceville.  He also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Vincennes University and assisted in fund raising for its first building. (All of this while Jane was home with the kids.) 

With the threat of Indian attacks by Tecumseh, Governor Wm Henry Harrison asked his good friend, Toussaint Dubois to act as emissary and deliver a message of peace to Prophet’s Town.  When this failed, the Battle of Tippecanoe resulted.  The next year Dubois was commissioned Major Commandant to serve during the War of 1812. His business partner and son-in-law handled his business affairs, leaving Jane to only manage the plantation, the children and the slaves, all the while Tecumseh was traveling up and down the Wabash below her home. 

Upon the return of peace, Dubois resumed his business travel.  Well into his 60’s now, while returning along the Buffalo Trace from Kaskaskia in 1816, Dubois and his horse were dragged under and drowned in the flood-swollen Little Wabash River in Clay County, Illinois.  Jane was left a widow with three children under the age of 10. 

Dubois’ Last Will and Testament written a year before he died showed the influence Jane held over him. He appointed her executrix and allowed her to choose two associates to enable her to carry out his wishes, at a time when a man’s oldest son was usually appointed executor.  (The animosity between Jane and her stepchildren can be found in the lawsuits filed after Toussaint's death especially those involving the Lawrenceville land. See earlier blog entries for this family gossip.) 

Toussaint left Jane his plantation of 400 acres, 4 cows, 2 horses, and the house and kitchen furniture during her natural lifetime, then to her children.  If she were to remarry and have more than three children then the second set of her children should take one half of his estate and the children he and Jane had had (the three sons) should also take one half.   In other words he provided for her children with a future second husband to the detriment of his children by his own first marriage. (Now that is some serious influence she held. She must have been one H--- of a woman, just saying. ) 

However, he did leave the rest of his estate (ie. his businesses and the rest of the land including the Lawrenceville site) to be shared equally among all his children including his and Jane's.  The Will also left Jane two Negros until the youngest child, Jesse reached 21, then, if in Jane’s opinion the Negros were able to make a comfortable living,  they were to be set free, and if not, then they were to be assisted with funds from Toussaint's property during their lifetime. 

The remainder of Jane's life has not been researched (although I am sure John King will do so now that he realizes what an important 'Lady of Lawrence' Mrs. Dubois was,) but it is believed that she remarried and became Jane Shuler sometime around 1827.

We invite you to tell us about your female ancestors who lived in Lawrence County as early pioneers to add to our history.  (Oh, alright you can tell us about your male ancestors too...)  We are particularly interested in those families that settled here about the time Illinois became a state.  If you are not sure, start your research at our Research Library on Monday, Wednesday or Friday mornings 9-12 or by appointment.  The folks there are really helpful.  

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Brave Women of the Illinois Frontier

More bicentennial stories from a small rural county in southeastern Illinois.....

Let's talk about the brave Women of the Illinois frontier. 

One story of bravery exhibited by a local woman is the story of Mrs. Joseph LaMotte. Her husband, a Frenchman and Indian trader, operated the ferry in the early 1800’s across the Wabash River at Vincennes, Indiana to the area that would later become known as Westport, Illinois.  The family lived in a round - log cabin that stood alone and solitary on the west bank of the river.  On more than one occasion Indians had attacked. In 1809 or 1810, anticipating another attack by some Indians seen crossing the river, Joseph’s wife and children hid out in the woods, while LaMotte remained at their home, alone and ready to defend his habitation with his life.  

The attack came, and all night the wife listened to the war hoops and sharp echoes of rifles as she lay silently hidden with the children, praying for her husband’s life and for their own safety. At day break the Indians gave up the attack and left.  The wife cautiously crept back to the cabin to find him alive with seven bullet wounds. The kind of courage it took to endure that long night of terror is unimaginable today.[1] (Unless of course you live in a large Illinois city with a high crime rate.) 

Another story of feminine bravery is told about Jane Bunton. About the same time in the 1800's and on the same side of the river, but away from the ferry landing lived the Bunton family. Her mother and two of her sisters were massacred one afternoon but Jane managed to escape and hid herself in a cornfield until night. Under the cover of darkness she swam the Wabash to Vincennes.[2] (Not only courageous but athletic too, our women!) 

During this period of frontier cultural unrest, (the politically correct term for Indian massacres),  the Native Americans would not harm the French citizens as long as they betrayed no affiliation with the Americans.  The granddaughter of Francis Tougaw, an early French settler in St Francisville, tells a family story showing this uneasy truce between the French and the Indians.  

  “The Indians came when her father was a baby and wanted to take him. They motioned to the West, giving some indication they would bring the child back at sunset. Though terrified, but really in no position to deny the Indians, the mother could only allow the baby to be carried away. The child was indeed returned with the setting of the sun.”  (The day must have been a nightmare for this mother wondering if she would ever see him again. But then again day care was hard to find on the frontier......) 

Nope, you are not going to find these stories on the Bicentennial website...but they are OUR history!

[1] Tri County history 1883
[2] Tri County History 1883